Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Most over-rated movies of 2010

If you haven't yet read my top 10 best movies of 2010 list, check it out:

I've decided to make the most over-rated movies blog its own thing and not lump it with the "Shit stains of 2010". In most cases, these over-rated movies are good, but simply not the masterpieces that many people think they are. Plus, it's more challenging to start shit with actual respected movies. Picking on Megan Fox for being a shitty actress isn't particulary challenging. We all know the only reason she's casted is because she's hot.

Prepare for long reads, as I'm sure people who love these movies (to which there are many) want good, concrete reasons as to why I think these movies are over-rated. Admittedly, my write up of Despicable Me isn't as complete as I wanted it to be, but that's because it's not as fresh in my mind as some of the others.

Without further ado, here is my list. 2 of the movies have showed up on just about every critic's top 10 list.

Rating: ***

Before I go on with my own reasons for this movie's over-ratedness, I very highly recommend reading this absolutely hilarious spoof script someone wrote of Inception which hilariously highlights all the flaws of the movie:

I will tell you right now, what you will read from me is not nearly as clever as the link above. But, if you're here to read what I think, then keep reading.

I gave this movie 2 viewings before writing this. On my 2nd viewing, I was actually very into the first half and thought maybe I was wrong about the movie the first time. Then the 2nd half of the movie rolled around, and I was surprised at how unengaged I was.

I wish someone travelled into Christopher Nolan's head, stole the idea of Inception and planted it into the brain of Charlie Kaufman or Richard Linklater. While I enjoyed Inception, I couldn't help but think there was potential for so much more. A movie with such a creative premise just doesn't really deliver all it could have.

A movie about dreams should have a more surreal, free spirited feel to it. Inception's treatment of the dream state just feels very mechanical and wooden. It's like, "5 minutes of real time calculates out to exactly 1 hour dream time." No, it doesn't! Shut the fuck up! To quote Jim Emerson's blog titled, "Has Christopher Nolan forgotten how to dream?, "The emotional components of dreaming (not to mention the universal archetypes) are nowhere to be found. No shame, lust, embarrassment, exhilaration; no flying, nakedness in public, pop quizzes, "actor's nightmares," quicksand floors, teeth falling out... There are lots of guns, and even those aren't anything but... guns."

It's also because Christopher Nolan has such an impressive resume that the movie left me feeling disappointed. Was expecting a Nolan movie to blow me away expecting too much? Was expecting a sci-fi movie with this creative of a premise to be better than The Matrix which came out 11 years ago expecting too much? People who say Inception is better than The Matrix, that just perplexes me. Both movies set up very fascinating premises in the first half, and then turn into all out action movies in the 2nd. Compare the two. At least The Matrix's action scenes are directed with such creative style. The Matrix truly transcends your typically Hollywood blockbuster making its action so unique and different from everything else.

While Inception has that really cool hotel action scene that everyone remembers, the rest of the action in the entire 2nd half comes off flat. Especially the snow fortress dream level is nothing but the main characters shooting and beating up a bunch of random dudes in winter coats...oh yeah, those people in winter coats represent the subconscious.

a.) Couldn't Nolan more creatively represent the subconscious than just a bunch of random dudes with guns...who have horrible aim might I add? Where is the imagination here? He could have done some very abstract or twisted stuff. Nolan seems content with conforming to the old Hollywood rule that if someone shoots at you with a gun, all you have to do is duck and cover your head, and he'll miss.

Remember the movie The Cell? A serial killer is in a coma, and they need to access information in his head, so Jennifer Lopez is hooked up to a machine, where she gets transported into the serial killer's mind. Now this is an example of a director who thinks big and comes up with some really creative imagery to represent what goes on in someone's brain.

b.) These action scenes are just boring! There's no intensity, no excitement. Random dudes we know nothing about get shot, the main characters plant explosions...lots and lots of explosions, oh right and then there are lots and lots of explosions too. I had to check the credits to see if the movie was co-directed by Michael Bay.

We could see this shit in James Bond movies, or even Vin Diesel fuck people up while snowboarding in XXX. This is a movie about dreams, give us something different! You teased at some cool shit, like Ellen Page having a city fold like a taco...why not incorporate that shit into your action scenes in the 2nd half?

Ellen Page...I am such a huge fan of hers, but what a flat, hammy performance she puts on, and what an empty character she plays in this movie. As others have pointed out, the sole purpose of her character in the movie is to ask questions about the plot that the audience has in mind. That's it.

For a brilliant architecture she's supposed to be, she's not really that smart. She's all like, "Oh my god! Cobb tells us not to do certain things, and then he does them himself! Oh my god!" or "These aren't your dreams! These are your memories!!! You're trying to keep her alive!", it sure took you long enough to figure that one out! Woah, people who lost loved ones trying to keep them alive in shocking!!

Many people have pointed out that the dialogue in the sucks. Here's an example which I'll quote from A D Jameson's brilliant criticism of the movie "17 ways to criticize Inception. Here's the link if you want to read it, it's a very long read:

Here's the exerpt from his blog:

The worst example comes late in the film, during the assault on the snow fortress-hospital. Cobb finally starts gunning down random bad guys, and Nolan interrupts the action to have Ariadne cry: “Are those projections part of his subconscious?“

(How has Ariadne forgotten this basic principle, one of the first things that Cobb explained?)

Cobb coolly replies, “Yes” (probably thinking, “I should have explained this two more times to her”).

Ariadne then cries: “Are you destroying those parts of his mind?“

Now, this is a fine question to ask, while they’re three dream states deep, and hours into a perilous mission (which followed weeks and weeks of planning).

But: “No, no,” Cobb assures her (and therefore the audience) “—they’re just projections.”

…What is this dialogue doing here? Why did Nolan find it necessary to write, and shoot, and edit in this exchange?

My guess is that the following conversation occurred during pre-production:

WARNER BROS. STUDIO EXEC: You have Cobb shooting and killing projections here. It’s really the first time in the film, in fact, that he’s killed any of them.

NOLAN [distractedly—he's busy planning an explosion]: Mm-hmm.

WARNER BROS. STUDIO EXEC: Well, the audience might think now that he’s a bad guy—that he’s destroying Fischer’s memories, or something. (Cillian Murphy’s eyes are rather blue, and rather soulful.)

NOLAN: …I hadn’t thought of that. [Puts down his models, thinks a second.] It’s OK. I’ll throw in some dialogue that clarifies he’s not doing any harm.

That’s Nolan’s solution to nearly every writing problem: throw in some dialogue!


Of course I have to mention the storyline involving Dicaprio and his wife, which is actually really dark and could have been done well, but...doesn't really work. The first time I saw this movie, I couldn't figure out why I had no emotional attachment whatsoever to this storyline.

Second time watching it, it was even cheesier. Dicaprio seeing his wife show up in a dream and being like, "No! You're not real!" brought back memories of Lui Kang in Mortal Kombat being like, "No! You're not my brother"

Here's a really funny blurb from the satirial script I mentioned above:



LEONARDO and ELLEN find CILLIAN, but also encounter MARION.

Leonardo, stay here with me. I know I’m just a figment of your imagination, but I’m all you’ve got.

My entire memory of you is as a vindictive, mean-spirited, violent, self-centered pile of bitch. Christ, why did it take me the entire movie to stop giving a shit about you? Fuck off.

And now that you’ve finished risking the lives of your only friends in the world for the sake of a little catharsis, we can finish the mission!

You’re right! We’ve got an innocent person’s memories and relationships to completely ruin!

This blurb points out why it doesn't work. All you see of his wife is this mean bitch who loves to go around stabbing and shooting people. Why should we give a shit about her?

They even give her cheesy horror movie pop up music when she sees Ellen Page invading Dicaprio's dream space.

Dicaprio's character...what a selfish piece of shit for risking all his friend's lives just so he can be with his kids. "Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you that you're so heavily sedated that if you die in the dream, your brain and turn into mush and you can spend eternity in limbo. Whoops. My bad. Forgot to tell you that. But, somehow I know how to get out limbo, while the rest of you don't."

Inception is an entertaining movie and despite how much I've been shitting all over the movie in this blog, I still do like it. It is a better than your average Hollywood blockbuster, but calling it one of the best movies of 21st century is absurd. Saying that this movie is mind blowing is also absurd. Maybe if I had never seen movies like: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Waking Life, The Matrix, Dark City, and The Cell (which are all way better movies at exploring alternate realities) my mind would be blown. I think even South Park's Imaginationland trilogy and Superjail's episode about dreams were more mind blowing and creative.

Finally, if you haven't seen the hilarious parody at college humor, check it out:

Black Swan
Rating: ***1/2

Black Swan is a good movie, but it's the weakest effort to come from Darren Aranovsky. After seeing the movie show up on just about every critic's top 10 list, I expected more. This ballerina could be the most 1 dimensional character ever directed by Aronovsky. A psychological mind fuck this movie is not.

To quote this review from Soergel:

"For all of Natalie Portman's impressive angst as a tormented ballet dancer, all you need to know is that she's sexually repressed, sleeps only with the big stuffed bunnies of her childhood, and that her creepy ex-ballet dancer mother (Barbara Hershey) still tucks her in at night."

To add in my 2 cents, she then trips crazy balls for the 2nd half of the movie. I guess the scene of her accidently taking crazy amounts of LSD got cut.

I was very into the first half of the movie. It shows the world of ballet, the skill and precision it requires, the toll it can take on the body, and the ridiculous amount of pressure that can be put on someone. The pursuit of perfection can be too much for one to handle. This was good.

But, the 2nd half of the movie turns into really campy horror movie territory as Natalie Portman trips balls and sees shit that isn't really there! It feels like the movie turns into a campy horror movie, to which I'm really disappointed to say, I expected more creativity out of Aronovsky in this territory. I'm shocked to say this as I don't like David Lynch at all...but the 2nd half of the movie would have been a cooler mind fuck had David Lynch handled it. Some horror moments seemed so campy, I thought I was watching a Sam Raimi movie...where the camp is intentional.

The movie's entertaining and seeing Pormtan lose her mind is fun to watch, but I couldn't help but feel underwhelmed. I thought it would be a more psychologically complex movie. It's not. The pursuit of perfection drives her to madness. That's all. Have you seen the movie Bug? That's a much better movie about showing a fragile character's descent into madness.

Of course the movie has the whole "life imitates art", with the happenings in Swan Lake being reflected in the ballerina's life, with lots and lots and lots of mirror shots. Yes Darren, we get the symbolism of the mirror! Enough already! Not only is the mirror an extremely obvious metaphorical device (when symbolism is so obvious, I don't like it), but it's also the most over-used, horror movie cliche.

The movie turns into an, "oh my god! I'm not sure what's real and what's not?" guessing game which isn't really that fascinating, because I found no reason to give a shit about the character. She's 1 dimensional, she has no personality whatsoever...especially compared to Randy the Ram from The Wrestler. Natalie Portman is amazing in this role, but it's the script which makes her character feel rather incomplete. The tragedy brought shoulder shrugs to me as opposed to some sort of emotional response.

Get Low
Rating: **

Get Low? More like Get Slow! (Thanks Matty G, for that one).

Because this movie will likely not be getting a best picture nomination, it's probably the least under-rated of this list. This also happens to be the shittyness movie of the 3. Get Low struck me as an Oscar bait movie. Everyone will be saying how awesome Robert Duvall is, and close up shots of Sissy Spacek crying a lot will probably get her an Oscar nod as well. The movie tries really really really hard to get the audience to cry, but emotional manipulation this forceful doesn't work.

For a movie which explores guilt as its central theme, as in how do you live with yourself knowing that you fucked up someone else's life, it comes up short and isn't really that deep. Compare it to another slow paced drama that also deals with guilt in Ordinary People, now that's a movie with a lot of psychological complexity to it and many interesting relationships revolving around a central tragedy.

I really liked the premise of an old hermit throwing a living funeral for himself (as in he is alive and gets to see what everyone at the funeral says about him). To this, I was really surprised at how ineffective it was as a drama, and at elliciting any kind of emotion.

Duvall is good, and Bill Murray is funny as a funeral director, but the movie focuses more on his assistant, the Buddy character (Lucas Black) who puts on a weak, dull performance. He ends up spending more time with the protagonist of the story, and a meaningful friendship between the two that could really change them both really could have made this a more memorable movie. Or maybe the filmmakers thought they had a good central friendship...after all, the close up shot of Buddy looking on reflectively after the living funeral shows that...apparently the whole experience of organizing the funeral and working with Felix changed the audience, I didn't feel this at all. It makes me wonder whether the film would have worked better had they casted someone better. I looked up Lucas Black...he was in a Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift as an inferior Paul Walker and Legion which was probably the worst movie of 2010. I don't remember if he was good, but I think I recall every performance in that movie being garbage.

Most of the movie, we get Duvall being hard-headed, spending such a long time arranging the funeral, leading up to the big climax where he tells his tragic story about what's caused him to be a hermit and alienating himself from society for his entire life. Had the climax delivered, I would be glad I sat through the first boring 80 minutes of the movie, but it doesn't. It's forceful drama, where the characters tells us a story we sort of already figured out on our own.

A drama like this needs to be deeper to be effective. Although most of the performances are very strong, I'm getting tired of movies that only have good acting associated with it.

Despicable Me
Rating: **1/2

This is like another case of Dante's Peak/Volcano, Deep Impact/Armageddon, Paul Blart/Observe and Report. Two movies in the same year with very similar premises. Too bad Despicable Me came out first, as it seemed like the fresher concept. Megamind ended up making a lot less money, due to perhaps seeming less fresh. Too bad, as Megamind is the much superior movie of the two. Its more unpredictable, and a much funnier movie.

I don't really get why this movie was such a hit. In fact, when it comes to animations, it really takes a far step back the way that X-men Origins: Wolverine was a step back in the superhero genre. Pixar and Dreamworks started making aninamted films that truly were for the entire family. There was humor that kids would get, and there was humor for the adults that would go over the heads of kids.

Despicable Me is really just for the kids. The humor feels very uncreative and uninspired, might I add it goes down a completely predictable path. The 2nd half where the adorable children turn the evil man into a kind, decent person is very corny and cringe inducing. A long time ago, this animated film would have been more acceptable, but with the standards set by Pixar, Despicable Me is a step in the wrong direction.

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